Category Archives: Secrecy

New York Times reporter let the CIA vet his book

Back when esnl was a young reporter, there was one cardinal rule: Never show a source you finished story.

But that was especially the case if another source might be significantly injured by your reporting.

But that’s exactly what happened when a New York Times reporter handed over a full chapter of a book he was writing to the subject of his story, the Central Intelligence Agency,

Never mind that his source had been criminally convicted for leaking CIA documents the reporter had used in his stories.

From Gizmodo:

New York Times reporter David Sanger worked extensively with former deputy CIA director Michael Morell during the reporting of his book Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power—even arranging to provide Morell with access to an entire unpublished chapter for his review—according to documents obtained by Gizmodo.

The records, consisting of internal emails from the CIA press office, show that Sanger met with Morell on more than one occasion in 2012 to discuss his then-forthcoming book, promising to bring with him a full chapter for Morell to read in case “he has issues” with the reporting. The emails, which we received under the Freedom of Information Act, are redacted in a manner suggesting that Morell and Sanger discussed sensitive national security information, and show that on at least one occasion, a CIA public affairs officer sent Sanger an encrypted message via email.

While the notion of a national security reporter meeting with a senior CIA official is obviously not unusual—such transactions are in the reporter’s job description, and Sanger’s book acknowledges that he withheld information at the request of government officials—the extent of Sanger’s collaboration with Morell and the fact that the men apparently discussed sensitive information is noteworthy in light of the Obama administration’s unprecedented campaign against government leakers.

It’s another shameful story about America’s sadly compromised Fourth Estate.

Perhaps the New York Times should change it’s motto: All the News That’s Fit to Print — If The CIA Approves.

Get ready for soaring cable, Internet, phone bills

Yep, a key Trump administration official wants the abolish the agency that regulates the prices of the nation’s communications system.

And that means there wouldn’t be anyone setting caps on the prices telephone, satellite, and cable companies could charge.

So prepare for slower connection speeds unless you pay premium prices, and prepare for downgraded service to rural areas and actual blocking of some web sites that offer views service providers don’t like.

And privacy? Security from unfettered government and corporate snooping?


From the Los Angeles Times:

A top advisor to Donald Trump on tech policy matters proposed all but abolishing the nation’s telecom regulator last month, foreshadowing possible moves by the president-elect to sharply reduce the Federal Communications Commission’s role as a consumer protection watchdog.

In an Oct. 21 blog post, Mark Jamison, who on Monday was named one of two members of Trump’s tech policy transition team, laid out his ideal vision for the government’s role in telecommunications, concluding there is little need for the agency to exist.

“Most of the original motivations for having an FCC have gone away,” Jamison wrote. “Telecommunications network providers and [Internet service providers] are rarely, if ever, monopolies.”

The FCC declined to comment for this story, but its current leadership has disagreed strongly with that analysis. Its Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, has spoken of an Internet service “duopoly” in much of the country that limits competition. And he has compared telecommunications to the rail and telegraph networks of the 19th century, calling for new rules of the road as the Internet becomes the dominant communications platform of the 21st century.

Wheeler has used his agency to go after allegedly misbehaving companies, proposing record-setting fines against companies for slowing down “unlimited” data plans and for billing customers for content and services they didn’t ask for. He passed proactive regulations such as net neutrality to prohibit anticompetitive behavior. And, in an unprecedented step, Wheeler made Internet providers obey the same privacy rules that legacy phone companies must abide by when handling customer data.

Headline of the day: Get ready for the bloodshed

And the new AG is a guy who says the only thing wrong with the Ku Klux Klan is that those dudes are doin’ doobies under those pointy hoods.

From the New York Times:

  • National Security Positions Go to Hawkish Loyalists
  • President-elect Donald J. Trump tapped Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Representative Mike Pompeo as C.I.A. director and Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser.
  • All three are regarded as outliers from conventional Republican thinking, shunned in various ways for viewpoints that were seen as unacceptable.

Abby Martin tackles John Podesta and his emails

In one of her most important efforts yet, Abby Martin digs beneath the rhetoric to show the real importance of the cache of Wikileaked emails from the account of Democratic National Committee chair John Podesta.

What she reveals is the heart of darkness beating beneath the skin of the American political system, the same system that has given us a presidential race pitting the two most unpopular candidates since polling began.

In an attempt to discredit the emails and what they reveal, the mainstream media have presented without questioning claims that the hack was executed at the behest of the Russian government without offering any verification for their assertion.

But no less than James Bamford, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst and attorney who became the most distinguished journalist ever to cover and blow the lid off illegal spying programs by the National Security Agency, Bamford questioned the government’s claims in an incisive essay for Reuters, where he writes:

The problem with attempting to draw a straight line from the Kremlin to the Clinton campaign is the number of variables that get in the way. For one, there is little doubt about Russian cyber fingerprints in various U.S. campaign activities. Moscow, like Washington, has long spied on such matters. The United States, for example, inserted malware in the recent Mexican election campaign. The question isn’t whether Russia spied on the U.S. presidential election, it’s whether it released the election emails.

Then there’s the role of Guccifer 2.0, the person or persons supplying WikiLeaks and other organizations with many of the pilfered emails. Is this a Russian agent? A free agent? A cybercriminal? A combination, or some other entity? No one knows.

There is also the problem of groupthink that led to the war in Iraq. For example, just as the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the rest of the intelligence establishment are convinced Putin is behind the attacks, they also believed it was a slam-dunk that Saddam Hussein had a trove of weapons of mass destruction.

Consider as well the speed of the political-hacking investigation, followed by a lack of skepticism, culminating in a rush to judgment.

But what is certain, beyond question, is that John Podesta represents everything that’s wrong about American politics, where claims of democratic openness are belief by secret deals in which big banks and powerful corporations, not workers and their families, are the real beneficiaries.

And Abby Martin is on the story.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes John Podesta

Program notes:

With the Wikileaks release of thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, very little is known in US society about Podesta himself. While he’s maintained a low profile, John Podesta is actually considered one of Washington’s biggest players, and one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in the world.

In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores John Podesta’s political rise, his vast network of corporate connections and his think tank “Center for American Progress.” Learn why the Podestas and the Clintons are a match made in ruling class heaven.

Quote of the day: A Clinton team email response

From Wikileaks, an email from a longtime Hillary advisor, transition team co-chair and likely chief of staff in a Hillary White House Neera Tanden, asking the logical question of the Democratic National Committee chair and offering a solution of her own:


Making someone very, very happy

Meanwhile, The Donald has a response of his own to the latest development, the reopening of the FBI investigation to determine if crimes were committed in using that private email server to send classified information thanks to a new discovery of emails on the computers of habitual sexter Anthony Weiner and his now-estranged spouse and top Clinton advisor best buddy Huma Abudin.

From the editorial cartoonist of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich: With tongue


Headlines of the day II: The all-Hillary edition

Three gems from the London Daily Mail, starting with this:

Hillary’s staff rushed to help Chelsea Clinton when she begged her mom to get State Department help for friend whose visa was rejected, emails reveal

  • Chelsea Clinton emailed her mother and her two top aides as Secretary of State – Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin – to ask for help for a friend 
  • Emails released by Citizens United show how Chelsea begged for assistance because her friend had been turned down for a US visa
  • Chelsea said he was ‘distraught’ and she asked him to write out his circumstances so she could ask her mother and her aides for help
  • His name is redacted but he is Freddie Sayers, who was at Oxford University with Chelsea and is a friend of Kate Middleton 
  • Sayers is also global editor-in-chief of YouGov, polling company which currently claims Clinton is five points ahead of Trump

And then there’s this:

IT official from Hillary’s State Department takes the fifth – 90 times! – as he refuses to answer email server questions under oath

  • A former State Department information technology official was asked 90 questions as part of a Judicial Watch deposition yesterday 
  • The staffer, John Bentel, invoked his Fifth Amendment right all 90 times
  • A federal judge had ordered Bentel to sit down with the group’s attorneys noting contradictions in when he knew about Hillary Clinton’s email server 
  • Bentel wouldn’t answer questions including whether Clinton was paying his legal fees or had offered him a job

And finally, this:

EXCLUSIVE: Clinton headlined fundraiser for campaign group which gave $500,000 to wife of FBI boss who investigated her emails – and it’s closely linked to Hillary’s bid for power

  • reveals just how closely linked Clinton is to PAC which gave massive donation to Virginia politician married to FBI deputy director
  • Common Good VA gave $500,000 to Jill McCabe whose husband Andrew ran probe into Clinton’s secret server which ended with no prosecution
  • PAC is controlled by Terry McAuliffe, Virginia governor and Clinton ultra-loyalist – and Hillary headlined fundraiser just before it gave McCabe cash 
  •  On top of that series of Clinton powerhouses have been on payroll of PAC including Robby Mook, her campaign manager
  • And Clinton family financiers poured cash into its coffers, including Doug Band, who was Bill Clinton’s closest aide
  • McCabe denies conflict of interest but one group said of $500,000 donation: ‘It looks like a payoff.’
  • Campaign won’t say if Clinton met Jill McCabe at fundraiser

And then there’s this from the New York Times:

Donations to Foundation Vexed Hillary Clinton’s Aides, Emails Show

  • In the years before Hillary Clinton announced she would run again for president, her top aides expressed profound concerns in internal emails about how foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s own moneymaking ventures would affect Mrs. Clinton’s political future.
  • The emails, obtained by hackers and being gradually released by WikiLeaks this month, also are revealing how efforts to minimize potential conflicts at the foundation led to power struggles and infighting among aides and Mrs. Clinton’s family.
  • One top aide to Mr. Clinton, Douglas J. Band, noted in an email that the former president had received personal income from some foundation donors and “gets many expensive gifts from them.”

Ma Bell sells spooky data; Internet attack probed

Two major stories on the cybersecurity front to report.

AT&T sells your data, for a fortune

The first item comes from Ma Bell, who’s been helping folks spy on you and pocketing a fortune for doing.

From the Guardian:

Telecommunications giant AT&T is selling access to customer data to local law enforcement in secret, new documents released on Monday reveal.

The program, called Hemisphere, was previously known only as a “partnership” between the company and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the purposes of counter-narcotics operations.

It accesses the trove of telephone metadata available to AT&T, who control a large proportion of America’s landline and cellphone infrastructure. Unlike other providers, who delete their stored metadata after a certain time, AT&T keeps information like call time, duration, and even location data on file for years, with records dating back to 2008.

But according to internal company documents revealed Monday by the Daily Beast, Hemisphere is being sold to local police departments and used to investigate everything from murder to Medicaid fraud, costing US taxpayers millions of dollars every year even while riding roughshod over privacy concerns.

Internet of things becomes a federal priority

After last week’s massive attackj on online services, carried out through baby monitors, security cameras, and other devices connected to the Internet of Things, Uncle Sam is getting busy.

From Reuters:

Obama administration officials sought on Monday to reassure the public that it was taking steps to counter new types of cyber attacks such as the one Friday that rendered Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and dozens of other major websites unavailable.

The Department of Homeland Security said it had held a conference call with 18 major communication service providers shortly after the attack began and was working to develop a new set of “strategic principles” for securing internet-connected devices.

DHS said its National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center was working with companies, law enforcement and researchers to cope with attacks made possible by the rapidly expanding number of smart gadgets that make up the “internet of Things.”

Such devices, including web-connected cameras, appliances and toys, have little in the way of security. More than a million of them have been commandeered by hackers, who can direct them to take down a target site by flooding it with junk traffic.

You have to wonder if another federal agency, the NSA, is busy exploiting these same devices to pry into our lives.

Just a thought. . .